It’s not surprising that USCIS would want to remove obstacles to collecting money from its customers. To that end, USCIS has simplified the process for paying the “immigrant fee” that most persons who obtain immigrant visas at a consulate or embassy outside the U.S. must pay to obtain their permanent resident card (“green card”).
(For a full explanation, see Nolo's article "How Much It Costs to Get a Green Card Through Consular Processing.")
The new payment process reduces the amount of information the immigrant visa holder must input into USCIS’s Electronic Immigration System (“ELIS”).
Even better, anyone can now pay the immigrant fee for the immigrant visa holder. This will make it easier for immigrants who are outside the U.S. and who have limited English, limited funds, or limited access to the Internet.
The amount of the fee has not changed, and it still must be paid online through ELIS (http://www.uscis.gov/uscis-elis). Once the immigrant visa is issued, the visa holder—or a family member, friend, employer, attorney, or accredited representative—can set up an account on ELIS and pay the immigrant fee with the immigrant’s alien registration number (A-number) and Department of State case identification number.
Payment options are a valid credit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover), debit card, or U.S. bank checking account information (account number and bank routing number). The fee remains $165.